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For release 11 February 2004
For more information contact:
Jeffrey Richelson, 202/994-7000

Update on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Washington, D.C. - Almost a year after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration faces growing skepticism over its claim that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs posed a gathering threat to the United States. The continued failure of Coalition forces to locate a single biological, chemical or nuclear weapon has called into question the original premise for the war.

Recent statements by former officials and newly available intelligence analyses have heated up the controversy. In particular, testimony by senior weapons inspector David Kay that "we were all wrong, probably" has raised the stakes, contributing to President Bush's reluctant agreement to name an outside review panel to look at the pre-war intelligence process on Iraq's WMD program, and prompting CIA Director George Tenet to launch a highly public defense of the U.S. intelligence community.

The controversy makes it possible to catch an unusual glimpse inside the intelligence process that underlay the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq. What was the U.S. intelligence community's assessment of Iraq's WMD program, and did it change over time? On what basis did CIA and other analysts arrive at their conclusions? How did the Bush administration make use of that intelligence? Was there any abuse of the process? What went wrong and how can the problems be fixed?

To help sort out these questions, and try to understand the larger policy processes at work, the National Security Archive is today publishing an expanded collection of core documents relating to the Iraq WMD debate. This update, taken from U.S. and British sources that have become available in recent months, is part of the Archive's Saddam Hussein Sourcebook, first posted in December 2002 and updated in February 2003.

Among the new materials added to the site are:

  • David Kay's public testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 28, 2004
  • CIA Director Tenet's February 4, 2004, speech to Georgetown University defending the CIA against David Kay's charge of a basic U.S. intelligence failure
  • The infamous forged correspondence on Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium from the Republic of Niger
  • The Top Secret key judgments section of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that had been released previously in its unclassified form
  • An internal CIA appraisal of the October 2002 NIE
  • Correspondence between the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and CIA Director George Tenet concerning criticism of the agency's intelligence performance on Iraq
  • The British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report weighing the Blair administration's decision to go to war in Iraq

Most of these materials have been made public before, but as often happens there is no guarantee they will not eventually be pulled from government or other web sites. Furthermore, by compiling these records in one location, the collection lets readers form a more detailed picture of how the process worked -- or failed.

For those already familiar with our earlier postings on Iraqi WMD, the newest additions are Document Numbers 4, 10 (a-d), 12, 15, and 32-43.

The National Security Archive is the world's largest non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and has won numerous awards and recognition for its web postings on U.S. foreign policy. In December 2001, the National Journal listed the Archive site as one of the top five online resources on terrorism. In December 2003, the Archive won its second "Cool Site of the Day" honor.

Click here to go to the documents

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